Movistar Team ties with Sky, ends up second by two tenths in opening, 28km TTT of Vuelta a España in Ourense; Blues put their GC leaders in perfect position for the first week of the race
Even shorter than the blink of an eye. The Movistar Team came shorter than ever to repeat their previous success from Pamplona (2012) and Jerez (2014) and claim a victory which would have put Alejandro Valverde, the bib number 1 in the 2016 Vuelta a España, into the first place of the overall classification following the opening, 27.8km TTT from Laias to Castrelo do Miño. Only nineteen hundredths of a second against Sky avoided the Eusebio Unzué-led squad's win, the Blues offering a display of experience and consistency over the roads of Galicia.
The lads directed by Chente García Acosta and José Luis Arrieta were trailing by 11" against BMC and Orica-BikeExchange after the first intermediate check (9km), a stretch of long, fast turns preceeded by a small uphill from the start ramp. The Blues were even losing more terrain, 13" against the US-registered team, into the second split (18km). However, the Movistar Team saved more energy and numbers for the late part of the TTT, with six riders against many squads' five. Their 30'37"6 across the finish… was only beaten by Sky's 30'37"4, which took Peter Kennaugh into the lead of the race.
As no ITTs have been ridden so far in the race, and shouldn't neither the day's only intermediate sprint -19km from the end in Vigo, 3-2-1 seconds up for grabs- nor the finish (10-6-4) affect the GC, the first rider, either Sky or Movistar Team member, crossing the line tomorrow in Baiona after the 160.8km stage two, will be the GC leader, heading into Monday's first hilltop arrival to the Mirador de Ézaro.
Nairo Quintana (video): "I'm happy with the overall performance by the team, yet a bit sad as we couldn't win despite finishing with the same time as Sky. We took advantage of the big squad we brought here; it was a compact group, not only consisting of specialists, rather than a well-bonded, all-around team, which put on a good effort on the road today. My legs were feeling great today; I just hope they remain the same for the rest of the race."
Alejandro Valverde: "We rode really strong and did things right. My feelings were of pure struggle, because that's how you've got to feel into a team time trial – it all builds on agony in such courses. It's awful to be losing by such a short margin and not being able to wear the leader's jersey, but when you leave all on the road, you can't ask yourself for anything else. We're overall happy about how things went for us today."